Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The New Challenge~ The First Lock~ Winners

Congratulations Team Fire, you've won the first team challenge. I don't have any more of the story written up yet, but when it is, you'll have some sort of advantage in the next round. Or possibly the round after that. It depends on which order I do my plans in.

Team Water, unfortunately you weren't online at the time of this challenge. Don't worry, I'll try to post them all at different times of the day so that hopefully no one has too much of an advantage.

The New Challenge~ The First Lock

When she activated her magic, the suitcase glowed brightly, the auras of everyone who'd ever touched it blending together. It was beautiful.
She stopped. "I can't open it," she said.
"Really?" Adamantha said, raising an eyebrow. "I thought you had a grand plan or somesuch."
"I do have a plan, sort of. Grand might be an over statement..." Lux trailed off. "Fire, water, air and earth..."
She turned the suitcase over and looked at the other side. It was covered in tags from every destination imaginable, but one in particular caught her eye.
Seven times the ghost shall appear. Seven numbers. The first lock.
Lux blinked. "I don't know what that means... After all this time, I finally have it and I don't know what it means..."
"Time to contact the reinforcements?" suggested Adamantha.
Lux nodded grimly. "I believe so. Until we hear back from them, I am not letting this suitcase out of my sight."

*******

You read it. The ghostly projection has left seven numbers lying around various bloggy places. The first team to comment all of the numbers wins. For example, if the numbers were 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, and Snow commented with 1, 3, 4 and 5, and Star commented 2, 6 and 7, they would have all the numbers between them, and they'd win. If you don't have a team yet, you can either contact me about teams or just participate. If you just participate, you are giving me permission to put you on whatever team needs more members at the time. Comment with any unanswered questions.

The New Challenge~ The Interrogation

"For starters, what were you doing in the off-limits section of the museum?" Nesbitt asked.
Squires transcribed the words of both interrogator and interrogatee in a special shorthand. It was usually his job, since he was the quieter of the pair, and Nesbitt had handwriting that could be...difficult to read later. He didn't particularly mind.
Alfred Dunham shrugged. "What do you think I was doing?"
"You were trying to steal a suitcase from one of the storage rooms," Nesbitt said bluntly.
"How the hell did you know that? That's classified information, missy." Alfred wagged his finger. Nesbitt ignored it.
"So, do you confess to attempted thievery?" Nesbitt inquired, raising an eyebrow.
"Yeah, sure." Alfred shrugged.
Squires noted that he didn't seem too bothered about this. He cleared his throat, and Nesbitt stepped back and gave him a nod.
"Alfred Dunham," he began, then trailed off. How to word this?
"Yes sir?"
Squires decided to ignore Alfred's mocking tone. "You seem to believe that a jail sentence has little effect on you. Would you mind enlightening us as to why?"
"So you're not the stupid mute who lets your partner do all the work after all," said Alfred. "Huh. Well, yes, I have plenty of reasons to be undaunted by jail time. I'm not exactly human, y'see. I'm... I guess you could say a superhero? Like, with special powers and stuff. Alfred Dunham isn't my name, not really. I mean, it's the name my parents gave me; it's my name to you pathetic mortals, but my real name? My taken name? The name that defines me? It's..." he lowered his voice. "The Hush."
Nesbitt looked like she was trying not to laugh. "Write that down, Squires. We don't just have any ordinary criminal here, we have a 'the Hush.'"
Alfred scowled. "I'm not making it up! I'm a wizard! I can fry your brain, and I will!" He snapped his fingers. Nothing.
Nesbitt and Squires exchanged a look, communicating without words.
Squires: Sophie had the jail bound in case of something like this.
Nesbitt: I don't exactly understand, but if Sophie had anything to do with it, it must be okay.
Squires: Should we take him outside to see if he's telling the truth?
Nesbitt: No, no point. If he wants to prove to us he's not lying, maybe he'll reveal something more useful about the suitcase.
Squires nodded. That sounded good.
"I'm not a mental case!" Alfred the Hush insisted. "I'm not sure why my magic doesn't work here. Maybe it's the ceiling, but if you take me outside..."
"We're not letting you escape, Mr. Dunham. Once we've determined the charges, you will have the opportunity to go out on bail, unless we think you're an insane lunatic, which right now it looks very much like you are."
"I'm not, I swear!"
Nesbitt looked unconvinced. "Very well, then you're a poor liar."
"I'm not a liar!"
Squires cleared his throat again. "Nesbitt, we have the questions from the clients."
"Clients?"
"From the museum, remember?" Friends of Sophie's
"Ah, yes. That's right." Okay then. You're taking it from here.
That's fine. Squires fumbled around in his pocket until he found the piece of paper. He unfolded it, cleared his throat again, then said, "We established before that your target was a suitcase from one of the storage rooms, correct?"
"Yeah. You're not mortals, are you? You're sorcerers, and you think you can open it. Well, you're wrong."
Squires blinked like an idiot. It was, sadly, one of his talents. "What?"
"Never you mind." Alfred the Hush winked.
Squires grimaced and read the next question. "Alfred, do you happen to have a lawyer called Bruce?"
"What sort of a question is that? I said I didn't want a lawyer. Lawyers are always trying to trick you, whatever their name is. Bruce, Brian, Broccoli, it doesn't matter."
Squires nodded. "Right... Sorry about that. Anyway, what is your relationship with the suitcase?"
"I am the one who can open it. There's a reason it's in the back room. The museum people don't know what to do with it, but I do. I can open it."
"What makes you believe that?"
Now it was Alfred's turn to blink like an idiot. "I am the chosen one, that's all there is to it. This suitcase has been coming to me, in dreams and stuff."
"I see." Squires scribbled a note, then said, "What do you think is inside?"
"I can't tell you that. You're not the chosen one. I am."
"Okay then." Squires gave the observing Nesbitt a 'this man is clearly crazy' look, though it was mostly for Alfred's benefit.
"One more question before we give you a bit of a break. How did you get into the museum?"
"Oh, that was easy. I paid admission, just like the rest of you ordinary mortals. It's a school day, but all the local schools have already had their field trips to the museum, so the place was pretty empty. It wasn't hard to get into the back room. I just swiped a key card. I wasn't planning on running into an actual security guard, much less seven of them."
"Mr. Dunham," Nesbitt interjected, "You were apprehended by one security guard, not seven."
"Oh."
There wasn't really much he could say to that.

********

This is just a story bit. I should have another puzzle up this weekend. EDIT: It's up now. Yay.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The New Challenge~ Teams

I'm also putting these in a page, which I will try to update as more people join. If anyone else wants to join a team, they'll go on the team with the fewest members, or if there's a tie for the team with the fewest members (as there is now), they'll get to choose between those, if they want to state a preference.

If you are really, really unhappy with where you ended up, let me know and I'll do my best to fix things.

Earth
--Trip
--Raven
--Adra

Fire
--Dugglyn
--Elleni

Water
--Snow
--Star
--Silente

Air
--Amethyst
--Fay
--Annika

Monday, September 15, 2014

The New Challenge~ An Arrest

"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law," Squires said as Nesbitt pulled the would-be burglar to his feet. "You have the right to talk to a lawyer and have him present with you while you are being questioned. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you before any questioning if you wish. You can decide at any time to exercise these rights and not answer any questions or statements. Do you understand each of the rights that have been read to you?"
"Yeah, yeah." The prisoner looked annoyed. "I get it."
"Very well then," said Nesbitt. "You are under arrest, in case you hadn't realized."
They took him back to the station and dealt with official things like paperwork and fingerprints. When all that was done, Squires turned to the would-be burglar.
"Keeping in mind the rights we read you earlier, do you wish to talk to us now?"
Alfred Dunham, (they'd learned his name during the important protocol stuff) shrugged. "Why not? It'll be fun!"
"You do understand that this is a serious situation and you are actually under arrest, and likely to face jail time." Nesbitt said, glaring sternly.
"Oh, sure, sure." Alfred waved a hand, smirking. "Ask away, mortals. I can't wait to see the look on your faces when I tell you truths you are too pathetic to comprehend."
Nesbitt and Squires exchanged a look.

*******

If you have anything for Squires and Nesbitt to ask the prisoner, you can comment it here. This is a non-team challenge, though if you haven't commented in regards to teams (see the previous post), I'd appreciate if you were to do so. I should have that announced shortly

Friday, September 12, 2014

The New Challenge~ Prologue

A suitcase that was once shiny black leather, now less shiny and smelling vaguely of seaweed. It has stickers from it's various destinations, many of them peeling. It had started out in Italy, visiting Venice and Rome, Florence and Milan, Naples and Bologna, then it had moved on to Tunis and Casablanca, London and Paris, Seville and Barcelona, Geneva and Warsaw, Singapore and Cypress, Athens and Sparta, New York and New Delhi.
Many sorcerers had tried to open this mysterious suitcase, all had failed. It responded to no magic unlocking spells, a Metalmage had been unable to manipulate the pins inside the lock (she said with a worried frown that she was also completely unable to sense their presence), or melt a working key. In a fit of rage, an Elemental had blasted fire at it. This, too, was completely ineffective. So were sigils, blasts of air, shadow, spiritual dances and the lockpicks the sorcerers reverted to when it was clear that magic would get them nowhere.
So the contents of the suitcase remained a mystery. There was speculation, of course, and rumors and gossip, that sort of thing, but no one had any sort of evidence, and most people were quite far from the truth.

*******

"Who are you, and what are you doing here?"
He smirked. "Me? Oh, I'm no one."
The security guard gave him a skeptical look, tapping her baton against her palm. "May I have your identification, Monsieur No One?"
He raised an eyebrow, still smirking. "May I have your number, Mademoiselle Security Guard?"
"You must be new here. Don't talk to me that way." Her hands didn't move from her baton, but he felt as though she'd slapped his face. No, not as though she'd slapped his face. She had slapped his face. Without moving. How did that even work?
He took a step back,  holding up his hands. "Hey, hey, there's no need to get all defensive."
"I'm a security guard. I will defend this place."
"What harm could a simple guy like me do?"
Now it was her turn to smirk. "Absolutely none. You talk too much."
He didn't see her baton coming around to the back of his neck.
Darkness.

*******

Officers Maureen Nesbitt and Matthew Squires both had one thing in common. They were mortals who had dipped their toes into magical activity several times and lived to tell the tale. Squires was  married to a mage called Lux (though he still thought of her as Sophie), and Nesbitt had been the only member of her family who couldn't shatter a glass with her eyes. They'd worked together for four years, seven months now, doing their part to cover things up, make sure magic and sorcery never appeared on the police reports, and investigate those cases that tied together the worlds of ordinary and extraordinary.
Nesbitt's walkie-talkie buzzed.
"The subject's unconscious. This was even easier than I'd thought it'd be."
"Do you have the suitcase?" Nesbitt's voice was very business-like, lacking the light tone of the person on the other end.
"Yeah. He hadn't gotten there yet, but I was able to liberate it."
"Good. Bring it up to the roof." Nesbitt put a hand over her walkie-talkie and looked at Squires. "Sophie knows what to do with it?"
Squires nodded.
"And she said we can trust this Adamantha person?"
"Apparently they've worked together before. Sophie said she has an attitude at times, but she means well."
"Fair enough."
The door opened, and the security guard stepped out onto the roof, baton in one hand, suitcase in the other. She was a bit out of breath. "The stupid thief-dude is so heavy," she complained.
Squires was about to say she wasn't carrying any thief-dude, when he saw the body that was being dragged behind her by an invisible force.
"Is he...?" he started.
"Alive? Yeah. I just gave him a little tap, not enough to give him major head trauma or anything. He'll have bruises from the trip up the stairs, though. Pity." She said that last word like she didn't mean it in the slightest.
"So," Squires said, "Second degree burglary. Shall we take him to the station?"
Nesbitt frowned and turned to Adamantha. "Do your sorcerers have your own justice system?"
"Sort of." The sorceress-slash-security-guard shrugged. "I don't have a lot of confidence in it, though. Besides, he broke into a mortal museum. That's a job for the mortal police force."
"Very well." Squires walked over to the would-be burglar, turned him over and pulled out his handcuffs.

*******

To the mortals around her, she was Sophie Squires, the sort of person who stayed at home and cleaned house while her husband, a police officer, risked his life to keep the city of Haggard safe. She'd find that offensive if it was anywhere near the truth, but as it was, it was convenient. People paid little attention to her, except to compliment her cooking or make polite small talk. Matt knew the truth of course. She kept the details from him, like he kept the details of his cases from her, but he knew about magic and sorcery and he knew she also went by the name Lux Seren. Right now, she was Lux, and she listened.
The wind told her about the suitcase, about how it was back, and about to fall into her path. She'd watched its progress for a long, long time. She'd been prepared to watch a while longer, but it was starting to look like she wouldn't have to. 

*******

His head hurt...
He opened his eyes. Cement. He tried to push himself up, but his arms were stuck. He rolled over. There was the sky. What was the sky doing in a museum? It was too big, too powerful to be contained. Just like him.
"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."
He remembered now. The security guard. He had a weakness for girls with auburn hair...
This is the awkward moment where he takes back everything he said about how he can't be contained.

*******

Adamantha set the suitcase on Lux's desk.
"Do you have a way to open it?"
Lux tilted her head. "I'm working on that bit."
She looked at the handle, at the four symbols engraved on the lock. Fire, water, air and earth.

*******

This will be a bit like Theatre of Shadows, in the sense that the puzzles you complete will help advance the story, though some of them may be more relevant than others. I do have a number of... twists planned.

Before we begin, I'm going to divide you into teams, one for each of the symbols. Fire, water, air or earth. Comment your top two choices, and anyone you would really like or really not like to be on the same team as. (I won't be publishing the comments for this post. If you have a question, I'll leave a comment quoting and answering it or contact you via email, depending on the nature of the question and if the answer would benefit others as well.) 

Anyone who joins late will be added to the smallest team. The point of the team element is that not everyone has to do every challenge, and they can still get points. Um, I'm not sure what else to say here? The challenges will very greatly, and I will be announcing the first one soon.